Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - the risks

Because intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a fairly new treatment (it was introduced in 1992), it is not yet known whether there is any risk that injecting the sperm into an egg could damage it, with possible long-term consequences for the child.

The risks that have so far been associated with ICSI are:

  • Certain genetic and developmental defects in a very small number of children born using this treatment. However, problems that have been linked with ICSI may have been caused by the underlying infertility, rather than the technique itself.
  • The possibility that a boy conceived as a result of ICSI may inherit his father’s infertility. It is too early to know if this is the case, as the oldest boys born from ICSI are still in their early teens.
  • An increased risk of miscarriage because the technique uses sperm that would not otherwise have been able to fertilise an egg.
  • A low sperm count caused by genetic problems could be passed on to a male child, so you may want to undergo genetic tests before going ahead with ICSI. Infertile men with low sperm count or no sperm in their ejaculate may be tested for cystic fibrosis genes and for chromosome abnormalities. You may want to discuss the full implications of taking these tests with your clinician or the clinic’s counsellor before going ahead.

For more information, see:



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Page last updated: 19 June 2009

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